Authors: Frøydis Morken,Turid Helland, Kenneth Hugdahl, and Karsten Specht.

Article: Children with dyslexia show cortical hyperactivation in response to increasing literacy processing demands.

Publication: Frontiers in Psychology (Frontiers). 5: 1491 2014 | DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01491

[Full Text] [PubMed]


This fMRI study aimed to examine how differences in literacy processing demands may affect cortical activation patterns in 11- to 12-year-old children with dyslexia as compared to children with typical reading skills. Eleven children with and 18 without dyslexia were assessed using a reading paradigm based on different stages of literacy development. In the analyses, six regions showed an interaction effect between group and condition in a factorial ANOVA. These regions were selected as regions of interest (ROI) for further analyses. Overall, the dyslexia group showed cortical hyperactivation compared to the typical group. The difference between the groups tended to increase with increasing processing demands. Differences in cortical activation were not reflected in in-scanner reading performance. The six regions further grouped into three patterns, which are discussed in terms of processing demands, compensatory mechanisms, orthography and contextual facilitation. We conclude that the observed hyperactivation is chiefly a result of compensatory activity, modulated by other factors.

Tagged as: compensation, contextual facilitation, fMRI, orthography, semantic processing, and sentence processing


Morken, F., Helland, T., Hugdahl, K., & Specht, K. (2014). Children with dyslexia show cortical hyperactivation in response to increasing literacy processing demands. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 1491.

Excerpts from Full Text / Notes:

This study indicates that changes in literacy processing demand results in different cortical activation patterns in children with and without dyslexia. In general, the differences seem to increase in magnitude as the tasks get more demanding, which is also in line with the developmental nature of dyslexia and of reading as a skill that develops over time. The observed hyperactivations are suggested to be chiefly associated with compensatory mechanisms and attention, possibly reinforced by the evidence-based training provided to the children in the first years of the project. However, the differences do not seem to be explainable from stimulus complexity alone. We have suggested facilitative contextual clues as one modifying factor. Finally, our study shows that when designing studies of cortical activation in dyslexia, it is important to consider the type of processing demands posed by the stimuli chosen, and that using stimuli of different complexity may lead to broader insight into the nature of this disorder.

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